ADM Harry B. Harris, Jr.
Commander, U.S. Pacific Command
TOKYO, Japan - 2016 February 17
Good afternoon everyone, and thanks for joining us today. This has been a quick trip to Japan, and as always, I've enjoyed being here. I thank Ambassador Kennedy and her staff here at the Embassy for helping to make this a productive visit.
I'd also like to thank Admiral Kawano for inviting me here to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Japan Joint Staff. I'll be leaving for that ceremony shortly. But before I leave, I wanted to spend a couple of minutes with you to specifically discuss the importance of Japan to our ongoing Rebalance strategy.
The Japan-U.S. alliance matters today more today than ever. The Rebalance to the Indo-Asia-Pacific that America began several years ago recognizes this fact. The transformation of the U.S.-Japan relationship on both economic and security fronts, and the breadth and depth of our cooperation in terms of our defense relationship, is at historic levels.
If the past two months have taught me anything, it's that East Asia remains a part of the world troubled by nefarious actors like North Korea. The only way to counter this is through sustained partnerships with our closest allies.
The current level of cooperation between Japan, South Korea and the United States is good, and I’m doing everything possible to enhance it. This teamwork not only shows the power of America's alliances, it also demonstrates that the Rebalance is making those alliances even stronger.
We are stronger together.
Another critical cooperative effort -- the Futenma Replacement Facility in Camp Schwab -- will enable the United States to fulfill its security obligations to Japan while also enabling the return of Futenma to Okinawa. This is a meaningful result of many years of sustained work between the United States and Japan and both governments remain strongly committed to implementing the relocation. This transition will improve our ability to defend Japan's sovereignty while reducing operations in the most heavily populated parts of the island and enabling significant land returns.
The U.S. troop presence in Okinawa matters more today than ever before, bringing unique capabilities that can't be replicated. With the five-year anniversary of 3-11 approaching, we're reminded that the Marines on Okinawa are integral to our ability to respond rapidly to humanitarian crises, not only here in Japan, but throughout the region.
Okinawa is an advantageous location for U.S. forces to defend the Japanese homeland under our mutual treaty obligations. There are more than 50,000 U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines assigned throughout Japan, each contributing to this obligation and to security throughout the region. We are prepared to defend against any aggressor that would threaten Japan's sovereignty. No one should doubt our resolve to meet our treaty obligations.
And with that, I'll take a few questions.